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A Revolution in the Introduction of Greener, Cleaner Buses in the UK is Helping Deliver on Both Climate and Air Quality Objectives



Greener, cleaner buses have arrived in large numbers in the UK. They are playing an increasingly important part in cutting carbon emissions from road transport sector and, in particular, reducing pollution in cities around the UK. A new report by the LowCVP for Greener Journeys describes The Journey of the Green Bus; how innovation and supportive policy over the last decade and more has transformed the bus sector from being a part of the problem to being an important part of the solution to poor urban air quality as well as contributing to tackling climate change.

Maintaining our ability to move around in increasingly congested towns and cities is more critical today than ever before, so with road transport responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and up to 60% of roadside NOx pollution in many cities around the UK, the introduction of cleaner, low emission buses is a vital component of a low emission transport future. Older technology buses historically contributed up to two-thirds of NOx emissions in the most densely trafficked areas.

From its inception in 2002 the LowCVP had a clearly defined objective to help bring low carbon buses to the UK market.  Building on many years of work by LowCVP members (in particular Millbrook and TfL) the LowCVP developed the criteria for the Low Carbon Emission Bus (LCEB) for the Department for Transport (DfT) which provided the basis for £90m of support under the four rounds of the Government’s Green Bus Fund. There are now around 3,500 buses on the road which meet the LCEB criteria. More than one in four buses sold in 2015 was a LCEB and over half of all 2015 bus registrations met the Euro VI standard.

Following further policy development, the LowCVP supported OLEV and DfT in producing the new Low Emission Bus (LEB) criteria, providing the basis for the recent Low Emission Bus Grant; a £30 million fund to be run over three years (2016–2019) designed to stimulate the purchase of Low Emission Buses.

A Low Emission Bus is defined as a vehicle which can achieve a reduction of more than 15% well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Euro V diesel bus, as well as the Euro VI HD engine standard for pollutant emissions.

A wide range of technical solutions have been adopted and, validated through real world emissions tests, are now delivering clear and demonstrable air quality and carbon benefits. The technologies adopted include the full spectrum of hybrid solutions (plug-in hybrids, diesel-electric hybrids, flywheel hybrids and micro-hybrids); battery electric buses; and a range of fuel solutions including buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells and biomethane.

Air quality regulations have been set in Europe for various air pollutants to protect human health.   Whilst much has been achieved to date, the latest research by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows that at least five regions in the UK are still facing an immense challenge in meeting European air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The Low Emission Buses beat every standard needed to operate in Clean Air Zones including the London ULEZ.

Speaking on the launch of the report at the UK Bus Summit 2016 – held at London’s QEII Centre in Westminster – the LowCVP Managing Director, Andy Eastlake said: “While an increasingly wide range of transport options now exist, there’s no doubt that an effective bus operation can deliver one of the best solutions to the mobility challenges of air quality, climate change, congestion, convenience and, of course, cost.

“The Journey of the Green Bus chronicles how the last 20 years have transformed the emissions, efficiency and experience of buses. It will, hopefully, help to dispel some of the outdated perceptions of this essential travel option.”

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys and a LowCVP Board member, said: “This report demonstrates that low emission buses are a crucial part of the solution to reducing roadside pollution and tackling a major public health risk. For many years the bus industry has worked to improve and innovate, and the result is a fleet of greener buses which are among the cleanest vehicles on the UK’s roads.”

Mike Weston, Transport for London’s Director of Buses and Chair of the LowCVP’s Bus Working Group said: “London has always been at the forefront of trialling green bus technology to reduce harmful emissions and we have shared our experiences with our counterparts across the UK.  The Capital’s bus fleet is one of the greenest in the world with more than 1,600 hybrid buses alongside hydrogen buses and a growing number of pure electric buses.

“By 2020 all double deck buses operating in central London will be hybrid and all single deck buses will be zero emission – delivering air quality benefits right across the Capital.”

Mark Munday, Technical Director of First Bus, a leading operator of LCEBs said: “I’m proud to be at the forefront of new technology, driving customer friendly improvements which benefit local communities and the environment.  Significant advances have been made by the industry in improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions through focussed effort to develop and exploit new technology for our buses.”

Ken Scott, Group Engineering Director at a leading UK manufacturer Alexander Dennis said: “The UK market and policy environment has provided a fantastic opportunity for Alexander Dennis to help develop new fuel saving and low carbon technology on our products, benefiting our customers, reducing air pollution and supporting the UK bus industry to be at the forefront of low emission bus adoption globally.”

Phil Stones, Head of Powertrain – Emissions & Fuel Economy, Millbrook, a leading UK testing centre said: “Millbrook is proud to be have been working with the bus industry, the LowCVP and other parties to help drive more fuel efficient and less polluting buses into the market.

“It is remarkable to think that from the first old Routemaster we tested in 1996 through to the latest Euro VI hybrid today how far the industry has moved technology forward to deliver these benefits while still improving safety and passenger comfort.”


Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?



Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret |

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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